The sight of Dr Bonny Khalwale engaging an unidentified opponent in a vicious stone-throwing duel at the dusty DC’s grounds in Kibra on Thursday is a dramatic episode to behold.
It is the kind of stuff that provokes one to quip — in the youth parlance — “kweli hapa ndio penye siasa imefikisha Mhesh Khalwale”.
The riveting scenario, captured on camera and video, kicks off with Khalwale assembling arsenals for the duel.
He goes about the ritual meticulously like a professional backstreet goon. Except for his smart and well-ironed outfit, and his unmistakable face and voice, one cannot tell that this particular combatant is a medical doctor and an honourable former senator.
Holding the rocky arsenals in his hands at the back, the vocal politician carefully monitors the unfolding volatile situation at the polling centre.
Like an expert that he is, in matters streetwise, he singles out an opponent and starts unleashing a cycle of missiles in quick succession.
Mheshimiwa’s opponent, in a red long-sleeved top, charges menacingly at his target with a huge rock and one shudders at the thought of this combatant opening up the medical doctor’s skull.
Instead of fleeing for his dear life like colleagues from the Jubilee Party, Khalwale dares the man on, tiptoeing and half fleeing from the scene, then charges back with more vicious missiles until the man in red sees red and flees.
“They teased my colleagues and they fled, but when they tried that silly joke on the bullfighter, they got their match,” Dr Khalwale told this writer on Saturday.
“I cannot be scared by such ruffians. The trick is simple, do not turn your back on them. Just face and confront them, then you will succeed in scattering them, just the way I did.”
The former Kakamega senator was one of the lead agents of the ruling party, Jubilee, deployed in Kibra Constituency during the by-election exercise.
The story of how the self-proclaimed bullfighter who previously used to goad at Deputy President William Ruto at the slightest opportunity finally got dehorned by the DP, is not easy to comprehend.
But to date, Khalwale, whose name in Luhya means “the sick one”, has become one of the most reliable lieutenants of the DP.
And it is not surprising, to some observers, that on Thursday the bullfighter gave it all in the by-election exercise, almost to a point of putting his life on the line.
This transformation of a man who has built his career as a critic and not a praise singer of the establishment has mesmerised many, including his admirers.
It is even laughable, according to Khalwale’s admission sometime last year, that the DP was disrespectful of him and members of his Luhya community.
Speaking during one of the morning live shows on NTV station, Khalwale charges that the DP “is very abusive”, having once referred to him as “a confused leader who feeds bulls on bangi and chang’aa”.
Some people seem to agree with the “confused leader” assertion, going by reactions to a video clip of Thursday’s ugly drama, which is doing the rounds on social media.
Could the respectable politician have truly sunk so low to the level of a hired “youth winger” of the ruling party?
“You cannot spur with hooligans. This is so demeaning for a man of Dr Khalwale’s calibre and it is also disgraceful to the professional prestige of fellow medical doctors. I think this is the lowest the good doctor has sunk,” reacts Dr Richard Bosire, who teaches at the University of Nairobi.
Khalwale, however, disagrees: “This whole thing is neither about Khalwale versus goons nor an issue of morality. I acted purely out of self-defence. What is the point of giving your back to your attackers and the next thing you lie in a casket?”
According to Khalwale, he had a job to do, for which he was accredited and he was doing just that — to his perfection.
“We were accredited party agents and we were not in Kibra as gatecrashers. Kenyans, including the media, should be focused more on why we were attacked in full glare of the police, who did nothing to rescue the situation, instead of poking fun at me fighting off a man who wanted to snuff out my life with a rock.”
Khalwale further questions why the security forces “allowed” Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and his goons to terrorise Jubilee allied politicians at free will.
Confessing his political love affair with the DP, Khalwale says he did what he had to do to save his life and protect the Jubilee vote.
It seems then that the correct diagnosis of Khalwale’s disease is “political love” and not sycophancy.
He similarly fell hard in political love with ODM leader Raila Odinga ahead of the 2017 polls, campaigned fervently for him, risking his life during the bloody demonstrations ahead of the repeat poll.